Barron Trump gets caught in the storm.

Also, a question about designating the cartel a "terrorist organization."

Today’s read: 7 minutes.

I’m covering the Barron Trump controversy, a great question about Mexico’s drug cartels and the fall of Duncan Hunter.

Photo: The White House

At the top.


Reminder: No Tangle tomorrow.

Tangle hits your inbox Monday-Thursday, with the occasional Friday special. Barring any big, breaking news, you won’t hear from me until Monday. Enjoy your weekend!


New Biden ad.

Yesterday, Joe Biden seized on footage of world leaders laughing about Trump and turned it into a new advertisement. Despite all the attacks on Biden, his poll numbers remain steady. And ads like this could do a lot to bring together a moderate coalition around him —>


What D.C. is talking about.

Barron Trump. Yesterday, when I sent Tangle out around 12:30pm, I noted that Professor Pamela Karlan was quickly shaping up to be a new hero on the left. She spent the early part of the hearing clearly laying out how Trump’s behavior constituted an impeachable offense. But by late afternoon, she had stepped onto a landmine. During questioning, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee asked Karlan about the differences between “kings that the framers were afraid of and the president’s conduct today.” Karlan responded: "Kings could do no wrong, because the king’s word was law. And contrary to what President Trump has said, Article 2 does not give him the power to do anything he wants. And I’ll just give you one example that shows you the difference between him and a king, which is: The Constitution says there can be no titles of nobility, so while the president can name his son Barron, he can’t make him a baron.”

What the right is saying.

Immediately, Karlan was accused of “attacking” Barron Trump. White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said it was “classless,” and described Karlan as using a “teenage boy who has nothing to do with this joke of a hearing (and deserves privacy) as a punchline.” Vice President Pence said the hearing “reached a new low.” TPUSA founder Charlie Kirk said she “shamelessly” attacked a 13-year-old. “That is the left,” he added. “They don’t care about people, children, or America, only destroying Trump.” Mike Cernovich, the popular right-wing blogger who has recently been critical of Trump, said “As much of a failure as Trump has been, today is a reminder why the far left must never have power. Pamela Karlan targeted a 13 year old boy. That’s who they are and they must lose the next election for our [sic] families safety.” Then, Melania Trump took the extremely rare step of chiming in and threw gasoline on the fire:

What the left is saying.

The backlash to the backlash was intense. #FakeOutrage was trending on Twitter within hours, as was #BeBestMyAss (Melania Trump has adopted the slogan “Be Best” as part of her anti-bullying campaign, which is often mocked by the left). MSNBC analyst Matthew Miller said “give me a break, people. Karlan wasn’t attacking Barron Trump, or making a joke at his expense, or dragging him into politics. The mere mention of his name as a play on words to make a legitimate point is none of those things. You don’t have to fall for every bad faith attack.” Others immediately began sharing two-month-old tweets from Trump, who used his account to mock 16-year-old Greta Thunberg. Some also argued that Karlan’s comments, which were actually rather benign, did little to draw Barron into politics. On the other hand, the barrage of conservatives invoking his name to attack Karlan kept Barron squarely in the limelight, ultimately doing the very thing they were ostracizing Karlan for.

My take.

Politics are insufferably dumb and hypocritical. I hesitated to even write about this because it’s such a pointless story, but it really is a great example of why so many people can’t stand either party or their bad faith attacks (and why so many important stories get drowned out). Karlan, who once said she had to cross the street because she couldn’t stand to walk past Trump Tower, obviously loathes the president. She is, by any measure, a raging partisan. Pretending otherwise is absurd. But invoking Barron’s name is not attacking him, and the joke or pun or whatever point she was trying to make was not at Barron’s expense. Was it a bad look to even use his name during these hearings? Sure. But real attacks on the president’s children actually happen. Rush Limbaugh compared a pre-teen Chelsea Clinton to a dog. A GOP aide was fired for criticizing Malia and Sasha Obama’s “class” for wearing skirts when they were teenagers. Those are attacks. And the left’s response was crap, too: Barron Trump is not Greta Thunberg. Trump’s attacks on Thunberg were ugly, mean and beneath what any citizen should do — let alone the president. But Greta is a public figure with 3 million Twitter followers who puts herself on the global stage every day. Barron is a young boy vying for privacy who hasn’t chosen this public life for himself (yet). All in all, we just wasted a whole news cycle where more important things could have been covered. But, alas, I’m committed to covering “what D.C. is talking about,” and for the last 24 hours, this has — incredibly — been it.


A story that matters.

This week, California Rep. Duncan Hunter pled guilty to a federal corruption charge that involved using his campaign funds for personal use. For years, Hunter had denied the charges and said it was a “political witch hunt.” But the story was broken open by a local, investigative journalist from the San Diego Tribune who wrote this story in 2016 detailing bizarre use of campaign funds on video games. As it turned out, Hunter had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and everything from flights for a pet bunny to travel arrangements for his mother. Hunter is now expected to resign and could do jail time. But all of it happened because of a well-funded and well-sourced local reporter who didn’t believe Hunter’s denials. It’s a powerful example of local journalism. You can read more here.


Your questions, answered.

Q: I’d love to see you cover (or just get your thoughts on) this thing where Trump might categorize Mexican cartels as terrorist organizations. I hate to agree with him, but I think that the “small” issue of Mexican sovereignty aside, it could be a really positive step forward towards fixing some of the issues in Mexico and Latin America which also just so happen to contribute tremendously to the current immigration crisis. I know it could be a fairly imperial move against our southern neighbor, but I think the recent event in Culiacán illustrates that the Mexican government is A. Too corrupt to ever be successful and B. Perhaps out of their depth if they are being outgunned and forced to retreat by the drug cartel. 

- Will, Taos, NM

Tangle: This is one of the more fascinating questions in politics right now, and I’m surprised it’s not getting more attention. There is a desperation to the situation in Mexico that makes me feel for your position — especially considering the seemingly inadequate Mexican government. It’s absolutely true that they seem outgunned, and 2019 is looking like it will be the most violent year of the drug war yet.

One of the most common arguments against declaring the Mexican cartel a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) is that the cartel is not political. It’s a crime organization, while terrorist organizations like Al-Qaeda are political in nature. The argument is basically founded on the idea that terrorist organizations try to form a government coalition, gain government power or create schools and religious institutions while the Mexican cartel is interested in money and crime. There is some truth to this, but it’s also true that in many places in Mexico the cartel is functionally acting as the government, the police, the judge and jury. So while they may not have explicit political ambitions, many drug cartels are functionally in control of areas in Mexico the same way terrorist organizations have strangeholds on regions in north Africa or the Middle East.

All that aside, though, my real concern is the repercussions (intentional or not) of such a designation. For one, Trump could use a terrorist designation on the cartel to re-allocate even more money to a border wall (I am very, very opposed to a wall on our southern border). It also puts options on the table in Mexico that make me quite nervous: drone strikes, ground troops, and the punishments for anyone “aiding” and abetting those terrorists. For example, that means U.S. gun store owners whose weapons end up with the cartel could suddenly be at risk of prison sentences or punishment. All of this hits on your concerns about Mexico sovereignty, concerns which I think are very, very real.

Another less-spoken about repercussion is how the cartel might react. Right now, the cartel actually fears the designation. For Trump, that may be enough reason to move ahead with it — thinking I don’t necessarily fault him for. But the cartel fear the designation enough that they actively avoid being associated with other terrorist organizations. One of the myths about the cartel, despite how violent and horrific it is, is that they have coordinated with real foreign terrorist organizations.

In fact, they fear the terrorist designation enough that they actively avoid being associated with other terrorist organizations (despite claims that Mexican cartel members work with terrorists, there is no evidence that ever happens). But if Trump labels them as a terrorist organization, does their incentive change? Does the cartel suddenly decide they lose nothing by aiding terrorist organizations if the money is right? It seems like a totally reasonable outcome.

There’s also the strategic nature of such a move. Presumably, Trump would use this designation to send U.S. drones or special forces into Mexico to kill off members of the cartel, especially their leaders. That kind of operation is called a “Kingpin Strategy,” and it’s the sort of thing we have done in the Middle East (see: killing Osama bin Laden) to upend terrorist groups. But we tried the strategy with drug groups in the 1990s, and all the evidence we have is that it doesn’t work. Jeremy Kryt wrote poignantly about this in The Daily Beast. He also interviewed a security expert from Mexico.

“The Kingpin Strategy works very well with terrorist organizations, but not too well with criminal organizations,” Mexico security analyst Alejandro Hope said. “When you decapitate a terrorist organization—say you take down Osama bin Laden—then you’re creating a void within the organization and it will often collapse.” There is a political, mystical leadership element at the top. “When you do it with a criminal organization, you’re just opening a business opportunity for someone else.” 

In other words: kill a cartel leader, and the vacuum simply creates more fighting and violence to replace him. It’s not an effective way to stop the cartel, and it’s definitely not an effective way to reduce violence.

Finally, there are ordinary Mexicans themselves. The government doesn’t want this, as they feel it will impugn on their sovereignty like you noted. And the Mexican people don’t seem to want this, either. In fact, after the nine Mormon Americans were killed in Mexico last month (which set off all the talk about this designation) a social media campaign launched for the Mormon families in Mexico to leave, not for more Americans to come. Of course, I don’t think Americans in Mexico should be caving to violence there and coming home, but it seems worth noting that there is widespread opposition to such a designation from Mexican citizens, who are more desperate than anyone to stop cartel violence.

According to Bloomberg, Trump is meeting with officials tomorrow to make a decision about this designation. It’s not totally clear what he’ll do and a lot of lobbying is still going on. I certainly don’t fault him for considering the move, as the violence in Mexico is very obviously out of control and putting both innocent Americans and innocent Mexicans in far too much danger. All of that, though, doesn’t seem to change the reality that a terrorist designation could very well make the situation worse, not better.


Numbers.

  • 22.5%. Bernie Sanders share of college voters’ support, up 7 percent since September, according to an Axios poll.

  • 15.9%. Elizabeth Warren’s share of college voters’ support, down 3.6 percent since September.

  • 17.3%. Donald Trump’s share of college voters’ support, down .1% since September.

  • 40%. The percentage of likely voters in California who view Mike Bloomberg unfavorably, one of the worst ratings of any candidate.

  • 15%. The percentage of likely voters in California who viewed Bloomberg favorably.

  • 24%. The percentage of likely voters in California who said Bernie Sanders was their first choice pick in the Democratic primary, best of any candidate.


Have a nice day.

YouTube says it has reduced the time its users spend on conspiracy theories and “miracle medical claim” videos by 70 percent. The numbers haven’t been verified by an outside source, but it’s a positive development in YouTube’s fight to reduce the promotion of “borderline content” that promotes things like flat-earth conspiracy theories or fake medical advice. You can read more about their efforts here.


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Kamala drops out of the race.

Plus, a question about the Senate trial and three stories that matter.

Today’s read: 9 minutes.

Kamala Harris drops out, what it means, three stories that matter and a question about the forthcoming Senate impeachment trial.


Yesterday’s poll.

Thanks so much for responding to the poll yesterday. 17% of you chimed in. The most interesting number: 25.8% of you said you identified as independents. The winner of the Tangle poll was Elizabeth Warren, who got 29.9% of the first-place votes and 27.2% of the second-place votes. Here are the full results of the first-place vote:

  1. Elizabeth Warren - 29.2%

  2. Bernie Sanders - 25.9%

  3. Pete Buttigieg - 16.3%

  4. Andrew Yang - 9.2%

  5. Joe Biden - 5.6%

  6. Michael Bloomberg - 3.2%

  7. Tulsi Gabbard - 2%

  8. Someone else - 2%

  9. Amy Klobuchar - 1.6%

  10. Cory Booker - 1.6%

  11. Kamala Harris - .8%

  12. Deval Patrick - .8%

  13. I wouldn’t vote - .8%

  14. Michael Bennet - .4%

  • No other candidates received a first-place vote.

  • Of Independent-identifying Tangle readers, Bernie Sanders was the top-chosen candidate.

  • Of Republican-identifying Tangle readers, Michael Bloomberg and Pete Buttigieg were the top-chosen candidates.

Here is the first-place vote data visualized:

Thank you, again, for everyone who responded. I am going to keep incorporating these polls going forward!


What’s happening now.

The impeachment hearings start back up. Yesterday, Democrats released their report on impeachment. The biggest news was a series of phone records that were published, showing phone calls between House Rep. Devin Nunes and Lev Parnas, the now-indicted associate of Rudy Giuliani. Some people think the call records implicate Nunes in the Ukraine scheme, despite the fact he’s the very person being tasked with investigating it. Republicans say Democrats overreached by publishing Nunes’s phone records (Democrats responded that they got Giuliani and Parnas’s phone records, and Nunes appeared only because of his contacts with them). Currently, lawyers are currently testifying before the House Judiciary Committee on the question of whether Trump’s actions, as detailed in the Democrats’ report on the inquiry, constitute impeachment. The House Judiciary Committee is known for being a partisan, circus-like scene in Congress, so you can expect some fireworks. So far, Professor Pamela S. Karlan has made the biggest splash and is quickly becoming a liberal hero for how she has described Trump’s conduct.


What D.C. is talking about.

Kamala Harris. Yesterday, less than 30 seconds after I pressed “send” on this newsletter, the Democratic nominee for president and California senator unexpectedly dropped out of the race. Tangle recently covered how Harris’s campaign was in disarray, but her exit still shocked a lot of people. She was one of just seven Democrats who had already qualified for the next debate, and just a few months ago she was seen as a frontrunner. In a statement to supporters, Harris focused hard on the finances of the race: “I’m not a billionaire,” she said. “I can’t fund my own campaign. And as the campaign has gone on, it’s become harder and harder to raise the money we need to compete.”

What the right is saying.

Good riddance. Harris was loathed by most people on the right, for flip-flopping on Medicare-for-All, for focusing so much on race issues, and for attacking Tulsi Gabbard (one of the few Democrats some Trump supporters and Republicans on the right actually like). Her exit yesterday was roundly mocked by pretty much any conservative who has a platform. In the National Review, Charles C.W. Cooke summed up many of the views on the right in a scathing op-ed that ended like this: “Everything that is wrong with American politics is summed up in Kamala Harris. She’s a weather vane. She’s dishonest. She’s a coward. She’s condescending. And she’s a phony. She’s the answer to no useful or virtuous question. Nothing good has come from her election. She has nothing of value to offer America. Goodbye. Bad luck. That’s all, folks.”

What the left is saying.

Depends which left. A lot of people on the far-left are happy to see Kamala go. Progressives have long been wary of Harris’s history as a prosecutor, and younger supporters of Bernie Sanders took to calling her “Kamala the cop.” Supporters spent the day eulogizing Harris as if she had died, thanking her for everything she’d done for the country. A lot of women of color, especially those in politics, said Harris was an inspiration to them and blazed a trail that they hoped to soon follow — besides Shirley Chisholm, the first black Congresswoman, Harris may be the best-known woman of color to ever run for president. Speaking of race: perhaps the most common reaction to the news on the left is that the next Democratic debate, later this month, currently features six white candidates: Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Tom Steyer. Harris dropped out and the other nonwhite candidates (Yang, Gabbard, Cory Booker, Julian Castro and Deval Patrick) have all failed to qualify.

My take.

When news broke that Harris’s campaign was ending, I was genuinely shocked. Not because I thought she had a chance at the nomination (the reports about her campaign did not sound good), but simply for how quickly she fell. A year ago, Nate Silver was saying that “however you analyze the primary, Kamala Harris is one of the frontrunners.” On October 30th, Silver said it was “a little nuts” Harris only had a 1.6% chance in the betting markets. Harry Enten, another gainfully employed pollster, had Harris #1 on his CNN power rankings of the 2020 candidates last year. And now this.

Frankly, there is a lot about Harris and how she’s run her campaign that I don’t like. She has flip-flopped over and over again on her Medicare-for-All stance, enough that I’m not even sure where she stands. In fact, she’s been elusive about most policy stances she’s taken, and even when she isn’t being elusive her words and actions often don’t line up. She derided billionaires in the race, but she had more billionaire donors than any other candidate. And, while there were plenty of bad faith criticisms lobbed at Harris yesterday, it’s absolutely true that her record as a prosecutor would make a lot of Americans cringe. She’s aided in the violation of basic constitutional rights, kept innocent people in prison and advocated prosecution for parents whose kids missed school. Even on legalization, Harris scoffed in 2014 when asked if she’d support legalizing marijuana, and then reversed course in 2018 when her presidential ambitions were becoming apparent. I’m not taking a stance on any or all of these moves (I have my own doubts about legalization and there have been plenty of well-written defenses of Harris), but I do think she’s been disingenuous about her past, even if she seems like one of the more genuine candidates on stage.

I also agree, though, that it’s disheartening to see Democrats end up with an all-white stage in December. This is still a diverse field (already a Jewish candidate, two women and a gay candidate have qualified for the debate), but 2018 exit polls showed 39 percent of Democratic voters were nonwhite. It’s not hard to understand why so many people of color are expressing disappointment at Harris dropping out: to have zero of the six qualified candidates on stage be nonwhite when nearly half of all Democratic voters are nonwhite is not really representative. At the same time, though, the simple reality is nonwhite voters have generally coalesced behind Sanders and Biden. Biden has 43% of the black vote in the latest Quinnipiac poll while Harris only had 5%. Those numbers aren’t an accident, and they reflect genuine support for Biden over a candidate a lot of voters had trouble connecting with. Now, the question is where will Harris supporters go?


Your questions, answered.

Your questions can be answered, too. All you have to do is write to me by replying to this email. Give it a shot!

Q: This is a great overview but how does the Senate trial work? Senate Republicans are preparing to defend the president but isn't it their job to be the jury.  Can you explain the Senate trial piece? New witnesses? Etc. What about the main characters: Bolton, Perry, Mulvaney — will they ever be called to testify?

- George, Atlanta, GA

Tangle: Thanks for the question, George! In retrospect, I’m regretful my “Impeachment Overview” didn’t cover more of the Senate trial phase, but I suppose I may have to dive back into that if and when we get there.

Assuming the House impeaches Trump and things go forward as expected, the Senate trial would be quite the spectacle. First, the Chief Justice of the United States — John G. Roberts — would preside over the trial. He’d be sworn in and the Senate would adopt guidelines and rules for the trial much like the House did for the inquiry (except this time, Republicans would have the majority). Trump would then be asked to respond to the articles of impeachment (the charges) against him. He can decline to respond, which is essentially a not guilty plea, or he could set forward his own telling of the events.

At this point, it’s entirely possible that Senate Republicans could shut down the impeachment trial. As The New York Times notes: “Depending on the rules set by this Senate, any senator may propose a motion to dismiss the charges, and the Senate would deliberate and vote on the move for dismissal. A simple majority vote would be required.” That being said, McConnell has repeatedly vowed that he would hold a trial, enough times that it seems unlikely he’d change course now.

Once a trial is in motion, it will resemble a courtroom in many ways. Witnesses will be called and cross-examined, the White House will have a counsel representing them, and “House managers” will present evidence to try to convince the Senate to remove Trump. The process would take days or weeks, and witnesses that were brought forward in the House impeachment inquiry could be called to testify again. Of the witnesses you inquired about, Bolton is probably the most likely to end up testifying — but I wouldn’t bet on it. New witnesses, like the indicted Lev Parnas (who was associated with Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani), could also end up testifying even though they didn’t in the House impeachment inquiry.

Throughout this process, it’s worth noting that the power dynamics will be a lot different than in the House. An acquittal for Trump is considered a foregone conclusion, though the trial itself could do political damage to him. But some Senators, like Lindsey Graham, have made it clear they would do their best to make the trial about Joe and Hunter Biden.

Once the trial phase is over, Senators will convene in what is usually a closed-door deliberation (again, this will be only the fourth impeachment of a president, so there isn’t a ton of precedent here). After the private deliberation, the Senators will publicly vote yay or nay on whether they believe Trump is guilty and should be removed from office. One liberal pipe dream that’s been floated around is that the Senate votes to have a “secret ballot,” thus removing the political pressure on senators and allowing them to vote their conscious in private. Changing that rule, though, would require a supermajority (67 votes in the 100-person Senate) just as removing Trump would require a supermajority. Both seem unlikely.

All this being said, what actually happens at the Senate trial is really anyone’s guess. There are plenty of rules that outline how things go down, most of that I’ve touched on here, but when it comes to witnesses, evidence, how serious it will be taken, how people will vote, etc., anyone telling you they know what will happen is selling snake oil. The truth is this political moment is unlike any we’ve had before it, and impeachment as a whole is a historic, incredibly rare and wildly powerful constitutional tool that has not been tested nearly enough to know how it will all play out. A few votes here and some clever procedural moves there, the entire process as we know it could be flipped on its head. It’s just so hard to say. The best-detailed account I found of the rules we do understand was just published in LawFareBlog. You can read those here.


A story that matters.

There were several stories that broke in the last 24 hours that I felt qualified for today’s “Story that matters” section, so I’ve decided to include them all here.

  • American teenagers have been stagnant in reading and math since 2000, according to the latest results from a rigorous international exam. Despite efforts to raise America’s teenage performance, the achievement gap between high and low performers is widening and the U.S. continues to lag behind other nations. You can read more here.

  • As part of ongoing negotiations in a trade deal between the U.S., Canda and Mexico (USMCA), Mexico may agree to drop language in the deal that gives brand name drugmakers 10 years of market protection from generic spinoffs. Big brands say they need market protection to ensure profits from their research to produce the drugs. Generic spinoffs say the protections stifle competition and keep drug prices soaring. The new terms of the deal could fundamentally change the big pharma market. Click.

  • The Department of Agriculture has agreed to a new rule that is expected to remove 755,000 people from the federal food-stamp program. The rule makes it harder for states to give food stamps to able-bodied adults without children if they are within a 36-month period of not working. 140,000 public comments, overwhelmingly negative, flooded the department when the rule was proposed. The Trump admin says the economy is strong enough able-bodied adults should find work and stop leaning on the government. Opposition groups say the unemployment rate measures the whole market, not people without high school degrees or transportation who are still facing huge hurdles to work and could end up starving or on the streets under the new rules. More from The New York Times here.


Numbers.

  • 11.6 million. The number of views, still climbing, on a video that apparently shows world leaders mocking and laughing at President Trump during a NATO reception at Buckingham Palace.

  • 68.2%. The approval rating for Republican Ron DeSantis, the Florida Governor and Trump-backed politician who won a hotly contested election last year, according to a recent St. Leo poll.

  • 63%. DeSantis’s approval rating amongst African Americans.

  • 57%. DeSantis’s approval rating amongst Democrats in Florida.

  • 51%. The percentage of Florida voters who said they disapproved of Trump in the same poll.

  • 300. The length, in pages, of the House Intelligence Report on the Trump-Ukraine scandal.

  • The breakdown of references in that report:


Have a nice day.

A Saudi surgeon has completed 48 procedures to separate conjoined twins, according to ABC News. The surgeon has completed so many of the surgeries he said his own, non-conjoined twin daughters once asked when he separated them, assuming they must have been part of his past operations. The hospital he works at brings in children from across the region for the surgery, which can be very dangerous for the twins. In a photo, you can see Dr. Abdullah al Rabeeah posing with dozens of the kids he’s operated on. Click.


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How important is winning Iowa?

Tangle is an independent, ad-free, non-partisan politics newsletter where I answer reader questions from across the country. If you found Tangle online, you can subscribe below.


The scene from a 2008 Iowa caucus | Photo: Citizensharp / WikiCommons

Your questions, answered.

Q: I wanted to write in and see if you wanted to tackle a question I tried to ask Nate Silver on Twitter yesterday. 538 posted a bunch of polling averages (nationally and for each primary state). One question I asked, as a fan of Mayor Pete, is if there is any data to let us know how voters react after the first few primaries. For example, if Buttigieg wins Iowa, how does that affect those who are identifying as voting for Biden in the polls. Do a significant portion of voters switch from Biden to Buttigieg in New Hampshire and beyond based on the Iowa win?

- Chad, Columbus, OH

Tangle: Voters hear a ton about Iowa and New Hampshire, and with good reason: they’re the first two states to vote in a primary contest and they often set the stage for the rest of the campaign. The “data” that I think answers your question is probably not as niche or complex as you think. After all, we can look back at candidates’ performances in Iowa and New Hampshire and then consider how they did in the presidential race. I’ll start by saying this, though: How winning Iowa impacts later states is hard to tell, mostly because winning Iowa is not an event that happens in a vacuum. When a candidate wins Iowa, they immediately get tons of free media, television appearances, and fundraising (voters typically throw themselves behind people who are viewed as electable). Right before early voting states is also when huge oppo research and attacks on fellow Democrats will heat up, so it could be tough to tie a loss in Iowa to a candidate’s fall in the polls instead of, say, a series of damaging articles that come out around that same time. Still, there’s a lot of data to suggest the emphasis on Iowa and New Hampshire is worthwhile.

For the purpose of this exercise, we’ll just talk about Democrats (though it seems worth noting that no Republican has become a nominee for president without winning Iowa or New Hampshire in 40 years).

Since 1976, over the last 11 elections, seven eventual nominees for president won Iowa, including the last four (Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Kerry and Al Gore). During those same 11 elections, the winner of the New Hampshire primary has produced six nominees. Only one person, Bill Clinton, has gone on to become president without winning Iowa or New Hampshire primaries (and that only happened because an Iowan politician was running, so Clinton didn’t even try to win). In 2004, General Wesley Clark won Oklahoma in the Democratic primary. He was the only candidate since 2000 to win a state that he didn’t have home-court advantage in (i.e. a state where he was born, lived or served) after losing Iowa or New Hampshire. In other words: only one candidate since 2000 who lost both Iowa and New Hampshire went on to successfully campaign and win in a state they weren’t expected to win.

One might contest that Iowa or New Hampshire are predictive, not impactful, and candidates’ success after winning Iowa or New Hampshire just reflects the fact they were popular heading into the election. But the polls have, historically, told a different story. Nate Silver, who you first posed this question to, published data in 2011 that found the winners of Iowa, on average, got a 7-percentage-point bounce in New Hampshire. The bounce is inconsistent, though, and sometimes non-existent. Winning in Iowa also does not necessarily predict victory in New Hampshire, even though the two both have dominant older, white voting blocs. Still, if Buttigieg wins Iowa, as some polls predict he will, it’s quite possible that a victory there would help him close the gap in New Hampshire, too, and leave the first two states with a clean sweep. I’d imagine that there would be a sizable number of older, white Biden voters who would consider jumping ship if Buttigieg won Iowa or New Hampshire or both.

All of this, though, comes with a major caveat: many pollsters and campaign experts think the role Iowa plays in the election will change this year. That’s for two reasons. One, Democrats are increasingly reliant on non-white voters, of which there are few in Iowa and New Hampshire. This simple reality has a lot of people looking to South Carolina, which votes fourth on the primary calendar, as the first major test for Democratic nominees. South Carolina has a huge group of black, Democratic voters who seem to prefer Biden to the field, the same way non-white voters seem to prefer Biden to the field in Nevada (another early voting state).

The second reason Iowa’s role could change is that Iowa could end up having an unprecedented split. Democrats have a very complicated caucus system in Iowa. People attend the caucuses and literally move around a room, standing in sections denoted to the candidates of their choice, all trying to form 15 percent or greater support. If a candidate doesn’t get 15 percent support in a precinct, they’re basically eliminated. Each candidate is vying for some or all of the 41 pledged delegates in Iowa, which are added together at the end of the race to determine the winner. But this year, some polls show Buttigieg, Biden, Warren and Sanders all with more than 15 percent support in Iowa. That’s totally unprecedented, and it could mean more than one candidate walks away from Iowa claiming victory, and could significantly mute the media hype around the winner. Splitting the delegates in Iowa four ways could really reduce the impact of the media’s coverage, the way donations come in, and how the polls move. And right now, that split is looking pretty possible.


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How important is winning Iowa?

Plus, Trump hits back at Bloomberg News.

Today’s read: 8 minutes.

I answer a question about early states in the primaries, go over the Bloomberg News story and a very important Tangle poll.

The scene from a 2008 Iowa caucus | Photo: Citizensharp / WikiCommons

Who would you vote for?

In the last few months, I’ve featured a ton of polling data in Tangle. I also receive emails every day from readers who express preferences for various Democratic candidates, Trump or moderate Republicans. Which got me thinking: I wonder where Tangle readers are in the election right now? I’ve created a brief, 15-second poll to find out. And throughout the 2020 race I will send this poll again to see how your views shift. Please vote by pressing the button below! I’ll share the results tomorrow.

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Updates.

  • Today, a federal court ruled that Deutsche Bank must turn over detailed documents about President Trump’s finances to two congressional committees. The ruling is probably going to be appealed to the Supreme Court, but opens the door for House Democrats to get their hands on extensive information about Trump’s personal and business finances he’s tried to keep secret, according to The New York Times.

  • Yesterday, Nancy Pelosi seemed to backtrack on plans to hold an impeachment vote before January 1st. In comments to reporters, Pelosi said a backlog of bills worked against the time frame. She added that an impeachment vote around Christmas “doesn’t fit the holiday spirit,” meaning it could wait until 2020. You can read more here.


What D.C. is talking about.

Yesterday, President Trump announced that he would revoke Bloomberg News’s press credentials for rallies and other campaign events. The announcement came after Bloomberg said it would continue to investigate Trump during the 2020 election, but refrain from probing its owner, Michael Bloomberg, or any other candidate for president in the Democratic primary. Trump’s campaign manager Brad Parscale said the decision to “formalize preferential reporting policies is troubling and wrong.”


What the left is saying.

There were mixed reactions. When Bloomberg News announced that it would not “investigate” Bloomberg during the election, some took its side. Jonathan Swan, an Axios reporter who shoots rather down the middle, made the case on Twitter that no mainstream media outlet covers its owner aggressively and Bloomberg couldn’t be taken seriously as an impartial news organization when reporting on Bloomberg. Once the news team made the decision not to investigate Bloomberg, they had to make the decision not to investigate the rest of the Democratic field, so as not to appear biased in that reporting. Others, like Slate’s Ashley Feinberg, said “Seems like people who pride themselves on being independent should have no problem rigorously covering a candidate regardless of the connection.” When Trump made this announcement, though, cries of press freedom immediately exploded. Trump, after all, is no stranger to restricting the press: in 2016, he refused to give credentials to HuffPost, Politico, BuzzFeed, The Daily Beast, Univision, and the Des Moines Register, among others. He even once banned The Washington Post from an event. This, to many on the left, is just part of a larger trend of Trump trying to fight any coverage about himself he doesn’t like.


What the right is saying.

What do you expect? The campaign is responding exactly how they should, given the rules that Bloomberg News reporters are now operating under. “As President Trump’s campaign, we are accustomed to unfair reporting practices, but most news organizations don't announce their biases so publicly,” Parscale said. Republican Sen. Ted Cruz went on Twitter and asked whether the Trump campaign should give press credentials to DNC opposition researchers since Bloomberg’s stated policy is equivalent to that. RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said the Republican party would also follow Trump’s lead. “Media outlets should be independent and fair, and this decision proves that Bloomberg News is neither,” she wrote. Bloomberg even took heat for its decision from a former staffer, Megan Murphy, who was the Washington D.C. bureau chief. “It is truly staggering that *any* editor would put their name on a memo that bars an army of unbelievably talented reporters and editors from covering massive, crucial aspects of one of the defining elections of our time,” Murphy wrote on Twitter. “Staggering.”


My take.

Frankly, I was disappointed to see so many people on the left defending Bloomberg’s decision or attacking Trump for his. First and foremost, I just feel awful for the reporters at Bloomberg. It’s one of the most talented newsrooms in the country, and Bloomberg is one of the most reliable news organizations out there. They were put in a bind by their editor-in-chief John Micklethwait, who started this whole thing with an internal memo telling reporters not to investigate Bloomberg, his family or his foundation, and to extend that courtesy to other Democratic candidates. You’re castrating a newsroom with guidelines like that, and it’s pretty unbelievable that they think it’s a healthy decision (by the way: Micklethwait did say Bloomberg News would continue to aggregate and publish investigative work from other outlets, though that part of his memo has been mostly ignored).

I really do believe as a leader that Trump is one of the greatest threats to journalism there is. He has convinced a huge chunk of the country that good journalists seeking out the honest truth are “enemies of the people.” He has dismissed dozens and dozens of stories as “fake news” that ended up being 100% real. And he’s so successfully muddied the water with propaganda arms posing as real news sites that more than half of Americans don’t even trust the news they read (there are some pros to this skepticism, but it’s dangerous too).

All that being said, I can’t blame Trump here. Imagine for a moment that Jeff Bezos was running for president. I can’t, for the life of me, imagine The Washington Post announcing that it would refrain from investigating him. Of course they would! They’d be best positioned to, just like Bloomberg News probably is. Michael Bloomberg is a billionaire who served three terms as mayor of New York under the watchful eye of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and half the tabloids on the planet. He can handle press scrutiny, and Bloomberg News should apply it liberally. That they would settle on a policy to treat the president differently than they treat his opponents is wrong and unfair, and if I were the Trump campaign I would have had the same predictable response. It’s an easy choice. You get one more newsroom off your back and you can justify it.


Your questions, answered.

Reminder: if you want to submit a question, just press reply to this email and write in. It’s that easy!

Q: I wanted to write in and see if you wanted to tackle a question I tried to ask Nate Silver on Twitter yesterday. 538 posted a bunch of polling averages (nationally and for each primary state). One question I asked, as a fan of Mayor Pete, is if there is any data to let us know how voters react after the first few primaries. For example, if Buttigieg wins Iowa, how does that affect those who are identifying as voting for Biden in the polls. Do a significant portion of voters switch from Biden to Buttigieg in New Hampshire and beyond based on the Iowa win?

- Chad, Columbus, OH

Tangle: Voters hear a ton about Iowa and New Hampshire, and with good reason: they’re the first two states to vote in a primary contest and they often set the stage for the rest of the campaign. The “data” that I think answers your question is probably not as niche or complex as you think. After all, we can look back at candidates’ performances in Iowa and New Hampshire and then consider how they did in the presidential race. I’ll start by saying this, though: How winning Iowa impacts later states is hard to tell, mostly because winning Iowa is not an event that happens in a vacuum. When a candidate wins Iowa, they immediately get tons of free media, television appearances, and fundraising (voters typically throw themselves behind people who are viewed as electable). Right before early voting states is also when huge oppo research and attacks on fellow Democrats will heat up, so it could be tough to tie a loss in Iowa to a candidate’s fall in the polls instead of, say, a series of damaging articles that come out around that same time. Still, there’s a lot of data to suggest the emphasis on Iowa and New Hampshire is worthwhile.

For the purpose of this exercise, we’ll just talk about Democrats (though it seems worth noting that no Republican has become a nominee for president without winning Iowa or New Hampshire in 40 years).

Since 1976, over the last 11 elections, seven eventual nominees for president won Iowa, including the last four (Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Kerry and Al Gore). During those same 11 elections, the winner of the New Hampshire primary has produced six nominees. Only one person, Bill Clinton, has gone on to become president without winning Iowa or New Hampshire primaries (and that only happened because an Iowan politician was running, so Clinton didn’t even try to win). In 2004, General Wesley Clark won Oklahoma in the Democratic primary. He was the only candidate since 2000 to win a state that he didn’t have home-court advantage in (i.e. a state where he was born, lived or served) after losing Iowa or New Hampshire. In other words: only one candidate since 2000 who lost both Iowa and New Hampshire went on to successfully campaign and win in a state they weren’t expected to win.

One might contest that Iowa or New Hampshire are predictive, not impactful, and candidates’ success after winning Iowa or New Hampshire just reflects the fact they were popular heading into the election. But the polls have, historically, told a different story. Nate Silver, who you first posed this question to, published data in 2011 that found the winners of Iowa, on average, got a 7-percentage-point bounce in New Hampshire. The bounce is inconsistent, though, and sometimes non-existent. Winning in Iowa also does not necessarily predict victory in New Hampshire, even though the two both have dominant older, white voting blocs. Still, if Buttigieg wins Iowa, as some polls predict he will, it’s quite possible that a victory there would help him close the gap in New Hampshire, too, and leave the first two states with a clean sweep. I’d imagine that there would be a sizable number of older, white Biden voters who would consider jumping ship if Buttigieg won Iowa or New Hampshire or both.

All of this, though, comes with a major caveat: many pollsters and campaign experts think the role Iowa plays in the election will change this year. That’s for two reasons. One, Democrats are increasingly reliant on non-white voters, of which there are few in Iowa and New Hampshire. This simple reality has a lot of people looking to South Carolina, which votes fourth on the primary calendar, as the first major test for Democratic nominees. South Carolina has a huge group of black, Democratic voters who seem to prefer Biden to the field, the same way non-white voters seem to prefer Biden to the field in Nevada (another early voting state).

The second reason Iowa’s role could change is that Iowa could end up having an unprecedented split. Democrats have a very complicated caucus system in Iowa. People attend the caucuses and literally move around a room, standing in sections denoted to the candidates of their choice, all trying to form 15 percent or greater support. If a candidate doesn’t get 15 percent support in a precinct, they’re basically eliminated. Each candidate is vying for some or all of the 41 pledged delegates in Iowa, which are added together at the end of the race to determine the winner. But this year, some polls show Buttigieg, Biden, Warren and Sanders all with more than 15 percent support in Iowa. That’s totally unprecedented, and it could mean more than one candidate walks away from Iowa claiming victory, and could significantly mute the media hype around the winner. Splitting the delegates in Iowa four ways could really reduce the impact of the media’s coverage, the way donations come in, and how the polls move. And right now, that split is looking pretty possible.


A story that matters.

Yesterday, a video of Rick Wiles, a pastor, radio pundit, and host on the website TruNews, went viral. In it, Wiles went on a tangent about how “Jews” are out to get Donald Trump: “That's the way the Jews work,” he said. “They are deceivers. They plot, they lie, they do whatever they have to do to accomplish their political agenda. This impeach Trump movement is a Jew Coup!" He then warned that the country could be in “Civil War” by Christmas and insisted members of the military step up. Wiles’ channel has 191,000 subscribers on YouTube. His website, TruNews, has had over 17 million views on its videos. He’s an alumnus of the Christian Broadcasting Network, which now lands interviews with Trump and Nikki Haley. Anti-semitism and insane conspiracy theories like this are rampant in the Christian-right, and nobody is really doing anything about it. Televangelists with millions of followers frequently tell their audiences that Hillary Clinton is demonically possessed or Democrats are working for Satan. One of the big issues at play is that Evangelical pastors do little to address anti-Semitism or bizarre conspiracy theories with their constituents, and this stuff continues to spread like wildfire.


Hoo boy.

Yesterday, I made some semi-disparaging comments about television news. So I will have to give it credit when credit is due. Chris Cuomo came prepared for this interview and shot down some of the popular Ukraine conspiracy theories in real-time with Rep. Randy Weber. It’s worth the watch.


Numbers.

  • 2.3 million. The number of people in prison in the United States of America.

  • 22%. The percentage of the total, global prison population residing in the United States.

  • 42%. The percentage of U.S. adults that gave money or volunteered for charity in the last year who said they gave to support education, the highest of any cause.

  • 2%. The percentage of Democratic primary voters who said they’d vote for Michael Bloomberg as of Nov. 10th, according to Morning Consult.

  • 5%. The percentage of Democratic primary voters who said they’d vote for Michael Bloomberg as of December 2nd, according to Morning Consult, putting him in a virtual tie with Kamala Harris.

  • $4,110,300. The amount of money Bloomberg spent on Google advertising last week, making him the top spending Democrat on the platform.

  • 7. The number of candidates to qualify for the next December debate after Tom Steyer met the bar last night. Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have all qualified.


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Have a nice day.

Scientists have discovered a new way to help rejuvenate dead coral reefs: speakers. The team is using underwater speakers to replicate the healthy sounds coral reefs make and it is attracting fish back to the reefs. The presence of the fish helps kickstart the natural recovery process and is giving “degraded patches of coral a chance of new life.” It’s a fascinating mix of technology, innovation and environmentalism. You can read more here.

The news you missed: Buttigieg rises, Kamala falls.

Plus, wild developments overseas and a question about my media diet.

Tangle is an independent, ad-free, non-partisan politics newsletter where I answer reader questions from across the country. If you found Tangle online, you can subscribe below.


Today’s read: 8 minutes.

All the news you missed over the holiday.

Photo: Gage Skidmore | Flickr

Welcome back.

Instead of a standard-issue Tangle today, I am going to make sure you’re updated on all the important stories you missed since Wednesday of last week. Relatedly, I apologize for not getting the abbreviated post-Thanksgiving Tangle out on Friday. Turkey comas, quality family time and competitive family gaming were in sixth gear, so I ended up opting for ultimate Frisbee, food and Codenames on Friday. Now I’m ready and recharged for the home stretch into the New Year.


What you missed.

  • President Trump announced he was re-opening negotiations with the Taliban. Trump made a surprise visit to Afghanistan on Turkey Day. It was his first time in the country where we have been mired in an 18 year-long war. Just three months ago, talks with the Taliban fell apart. Trump told troops they were back on — though details were sparse. Afghanistan is currently going through contested elections as the government continues its fight to beat back the terrorist organization in hopes of a cease-fire. But the Taliban wants political representation as part of any deal, and everyone wants U.S. troops to withdraw. Click.

  • Pete Buttigieg’s support is surging — amongst older, white Americans. Buttigieg has continued to struggle with black voters and Democratic operatives have feared his inexperience would be a liability with older voters in a general election against Trump. But Buttigieg’s ascending campaign says differently. Buttigieg now leads Biden amongst likely Democratic caucusgoers who are older than 65 in both Iowa and New Hampshire, two critical early states to build momentum in a campaign. History tells us that older voters are the most reliable to show up at the polls, and Buttigieg’s popularity with them could be key to a primary victory. Click.

  • Kamala Harris’s campaign is coming undone at the seams, according to multiple reports. Harris, once seen a frontrunner who enjoyed surges to the front of the polls after early debates, can’t seem to raise money or get out of the polling basement. Harris’s sister and her campaign manager are at odds, while Harris herself has oscillated between moderate talking points and far-left stances. The New York Times and The Washington Post both chronicled extensive looks into the campaign’s disarray. Read WaPo here or NYT here.

  • Democratic candidates Joe Sestak and Steve Bullock have dropped out of the presidential race. Joe who? The former Pennsylvania congressman and three-star admiral entered the race in June as the 25th candidate. When he dropped out over the weekend, just 17 candidates remained. Then, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, a moderate Democrat running from the center, announced he was ending his campaign Monday morning. Bullock says he won’t run for Senate in Montana, basically ending any chance Democrats have to win that seat. If you need a reminder on who is running, the Times has you covered. Click for Sestak. Click for Bullock.

  • Chinese officials lashed out at President Trump on Thursday after he signed off on bipartisan legislation that threw U.S. support behind pro-democracy protesters and human rights activists in Hong Kong. Beijing expressed “extreme anger” and said Hong Kong belongs to China and China had the ability to “deal” with it. Protesters in Hong Kong responded to the bill by praising Trump and the U.S. and urging the rest of the world to stand with them. Some even sang America’s National Anthem in the streets. If you want a Tangle refresher on what’s happening in Hong Kong and China, click here. For more on this news, click here.

  • The White House said it will not participate in Wednesday’s impeachment hearings it was invited to by the House Judiciary Committee. Impeachment proceedings will move forward this week with a vote on Tuesday to approve the Democrats’ report on the evidence to impeach Trump. Then there will be hearings on Wednesday, though it’s unclear who will testify as witnesses. Democrats offered the White House a chance to represent itself at the hearings to counter Republican attacks that Trump has not been afforded the right to defend himself. The White Hosue declined, heeding warnings from allied Republicans that attending the hearings would legitimize them and draw more attention. The House Judiciary Committee will finalize articles of impeachment that will then be sent back to the House of Representatives for a vote. For a refresher on how impeachment works, you can click here. For more on this story, click here.

  • P.S. Fox News judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano said House Democrats have enough evidence to impeach Trump. Napolitano has become a rare break from Trump defenses on Fox News since the story of Trump’s July 25th phone call with Ukraine’s president broke. These comments, though, came on The Reason Interview podcast with Nick Gillespie. Napolitano said “Trump hasn’t presented a defense and I don’t know if he plans to. The evidence of his impeachable behavior at this point, in my view, is overwhelming.” Click.

  • Lisa Page, the FBI lawyer who has stayed silent while being accused of trying to oust President Trump from office, is now speaking out. Page became infamous for her text messages with Peter Strzok, another member of the FBI who she was having an affair with. In them, Page and Strzok express deep concern about Trump winning the election in texts that Trump has used to claim there was a deep-state conspiracy against him. 18 months removed from the FBI, Page can speak publicly, and she gave her first interview to Molly Jong-Fast of The Daily Beast (an admittedly friendly set-up, as Jong-Fast is an openly liberal reporter). It’s a fascinating and explosive read. Click.


From abroad.

  • In Iran, at least 180 people have been killed in the deadliest protests the country has seen since the Islamic Revolution 40 years ago. The protests started over an increase in gas prices and have since exploded into demonstrators calling for an end to the Islamic Republic’s government. The government has responded with menace, using deadly force to squash dissent. Click.

  • In London, a terrorist attack that left two dead has set off a debate about how to handle violent criminals. The assailant was a former prisoner convicted of terrorism offenses in 2012 who was released from prison after he spent time in one of Britain’s rehabilitation programs. A judge had warned about his release, and he was wearing an electronic tag when he drove his car into a crowd of pedestrians and then stabbed a police officer. Four people, including the attacker, were killed. 40 others were injured. Click.


Kamala ad.

Amidst an inundation of negative news, Kamala Harris caught a lot of people’s attention with her new “Trump antidote” ad, which was praised across the left.


A story that matters.

The Department of Homeland Security created a fake university that has arrested about 90 foreign students in the last few months. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) executed a sting operation at the university that has now helped arrest 250 foreign-born students, mostly from India, for immigration violations. Lawyers for some of the students say they were “trapped” by the U.S. government and are challenging the arrests in court. The school opened during the Obama administration and shows just how far the Trump admin is going to arrest and deport undocumented immigrants. Click.


Your questions, answered.

Reminder: Answering reader questions is one of my favorite parts of Tangle. Don’t be shy! You can ask a question by simply replying to this email and writing in — I will get to it as soon as I can.

Q: What is your media diet like to produce Tangle? What do you read and consume?

- Erica, Fayetteville, NC

Tangle: Pretty much everything. My baseline every evening and morning starts with the three big papers: The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. I’ll skim their front pages, op-ed sections and politics sections to see what the political class and best reporters in the game are focused on. After I do that I’ll usually head over to Fox News, CNN and maybe a more left or right-leaning site like HuffPost, New York Post or Breitbart. I don’t really think of Breitbart as a news organization the same way I do New York Post or HuffPost, since I think the latter have much higher editorial standards than Breitbart does. But whether people like it or not, Breitbart has sources inside the Trump administration and usually has a good pulse on what Trump’s base is interested in. Nothing really illustrates that more than the bombshell story on Trump’s top adviser Stephen Miller and how he was essentially feeding Breitbart anti-immigrant news hits he got from white nationalist websites.

After that peruse, I’ll go through my email and read the 10-12 newsletters I subscribe to. This includes everyone from Axios to Breitbart to The New York Times and TheSkimm. Axios is probably the most-cited source for my “Numbers” section, as they do a lot of data-driven news writing. I like these newsletters a lot, but I found that they often didn’t provide enough context or balance, which is another reason I started Tangle. My standard format of “What the left is saying” vs. “What the right is saying” is one of the things about it that I think is really powerful (and, based on the feedback I get, one of the things readers really enjoy about it, too). During or after the newsletter perusal, I turn to Twitter. As you probably have noticed, I use a lot of tweets and information from Twitter in my newsletter. That’s because I think Twitter is a fascinating place to get commentary from reporters, experts and pundits that is unguarded and comes without the filter of an editor or newsroom. I also enjoy Twitter because more “regular” people can go viral or blow up with their own political commentary and thoughts.

Along with all of these, I do a good deal of podcast listening. My favorite political podcast is The Fifth Column, a podcast hosted by Michael Moynihan (VICE News), Kmele Foster (FreeThink), Anthony Fisher (Insider) and Matt Welch (Reason). Nobody is spared on The Fifth Column, as most of the hosts are pretty centrist and libertarian-minded. They basically blast everyone, including the people reporting on the news, and I find their conversations challenging and informative, even though they aren’t super serious (there are a lot of off-color jokes and drinking). They can be a bit tangential as a group but it’s usually well-reasoned political debate, especially when they have guests on. I also listen to The Daily every morning, This American Life from NPR, and The Gist with Mike Pesca, among a few others.

Generally speaking, I do my best to avoid television news. I try to live by the mantra “watch your sports and read your news.” Exceptions for this are 60 Minutes on CBS as well as hearings and debates, obviously. But I really do believe CNN, Fox News and MSNBC are, on the whole, just bad for people’s brains at this point. I’d be honored to work for any of those places to participate in how the shows are scripted, but right now it seems like there is an overwhelming amount of partisan hackery and Thunderdome style politics that is meant to drive ratings and anger people, not inform them (exceptions here are CNN’s international team, Fox News’s Chris Wallace and MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, who I think has a fair-minded progressive slant). Fox primetime, in my opinion, is the worst of the group, mostly because the target of the anger they drive is typically people with less power (immigrants, the homeless, addicts, etc.) while MSNBC is pretty consistently ramping up hatred of Republican politicians, the wealthy and corporations.

Finally, I get a lot of news from just talking with people, having some sources across the country and soliciting conversations via Tangle, Twitter and Facebook. Every day people email or text me with stories they think are interesting or stories I should know about, and often times those are the best and most compelling things I include. I pick up tons of local news that way, or news from more niche media organizations, and I have friends all over the country (and abroad) who are really awesome about keeping me appraised of what’s going on where they live or travel. I always welcome story suggestions and tips, so don’t hesitate to shoot me an email (again — just reply to a Tangle to contact me!) or tweet at me if you have something you think I should know about.


Climate positivity.

I’m quite wary of news stories that “downplay” the impacts of climate change, but I very much appreciated this piece from Michael Shellenberger in Forbes. Shellenberger is a longtime climate change reporter who has written a lot recently about the apocalyptic coverage of climate change and how it can damage meaningful environmentalist movements. In this story, he highlights and debunks some of the most common refrains about climate change and discusses how the dire predictions, often overblown, may be damaging real progress. It was a thought-provoking story. Click.


Numbers

  • 62%. The percentage of Democrats in four battleground states — Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin — who said a Medicare for all plan that eliminates private insurance is a good idea.

  • 62%. The percentage of swing voters in four battleground states — Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin who think Medicare for all that eliminates private insurance is a bad idea.

  • $6.8 million. The amount of money Republicans have spent on impeachment TV ads since October 1st.

  • $4.7 million. The amount of money Democrats have spent on impeachment TV ads in that same time span.

  • 4,486. The number of Michael Bloomberg mentions on cable news this month.

  • 2,167. The number of Andrew Yang mentions on cable news during his entire campaign (Yang is still polling ahead of Bloomberg).

  • 53%. The percentage of Republicans who think Donald Trump is a better president than Abraham Lincoln was, according to a new YouGov poll.

  • 33.3%. The percentage of Republican men without a college degree who support Medicare for all.

  • 10.4%. The percentage of Republican men with a college degree who support Medicare for all.


Have a nice day.

Strawberry flavored HIV medicine may save thousands of children’s lives across the globe. Every year, about 80,000 children and babies die of AIDS, mostly in Africa. One big reason is that medicine to cure the disease is often bitter-tasting and hard for kids to swallow or keep down, The New York Times reports. But Friday, an Indian drug manufacturer released a new pediatric HIV medicine that can be mixed into milk or cereal and tastes like strawberries. It will cost just $1 a day. You can read more here.

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